Vulnerable Elders Survey and Socioeconomic Status Predict Functional Decline and Death Among Older Women With Newly Diagnosed Nonmetastatic Breast Cancer

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The purpose of this study was to determine the ability of the Vulnerable Elders Survey (VES-13) to predict the composite outcome of functional decline and death within 12 months of breast cancer treatment among women 65 years old or older with newly diagnosed stage I to III breast cancer.

METHODS:

Two hundred and six participants were recruited from ambulatory oncology clinics at an academic center between April 2008 and April 2013. Participants competed the VES-13 at baseline just before neoadjuvant/adjuvant treatment. The primary outcome, functional decline/death, was defined as either a decrease of at least 1 point on the Activities of Daily Living scale and/or the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale or death between baseline and 12 months (yes or no).

RESULTS:

One hundred and eighty four participants (89%) completed 12 months of follow-up. Twenty-two percent functionally declined (n = 34) or died (n = 7). Univariately, with increasing VES-13 scores, the estimated risk of functional decline/death rose from 23% for participants with a VES-13 score of 3 to 76% for participants with a VES-13 score of 10. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, VES-13 scores (adjusted odds ratio, 1.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.18-1.57) and having a high school education or less (adjusted odds ratio, 2.47; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-5.65) were independent predictors of functional decline/death (area under the receiver operator curve, 0.79).

CONCLUSIONS:

Among older women with newly diagnosed nonmetastatic breast cancer, approximately 1 in 5 functionally declined and/or died within 12 months of breast cancer treatment initiation. Women with high school education or less were disproportionately affected. The VES-13 is a useful instrument for the early identification of those at risk for functional decline and/or death.

Among older women with newly diagnosed nonmetastatic breast cancer, functional decline within 12 months of breast cancer treatment is highly prevalent, and women of lower educational status are disproportionately affected. The Vulnerable Elders Survey is a useful tool for the early identification of women at risk for functional decline.

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